Apple WWDC 2015 Announcements

El Capitan

Several new and exciting updates were announced this week at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference.

  • OS X El Capitan (aka Mac OS 10.11) refines the Mac experience with enhancements to window management, built-in apps, and Spotlight search. The new OS promises to be more responsive.
  • With iOS 9, your iPhone and iPad become more intelligent and proactive with powerful search and improved Siri features that help you find what you’re looking for before you even ask.New multitasking features designed specifically for iPad allow you to work with two apps side-by-side, or with Picture in Picture continue watching a video while you navigate to another app. And built-in apps are now even more powerful with a completely redesigned Notes app, transit information in Maps, and an all-new News app that collects all the stories you want to read from top news sources based on the topics you’re most interested in.
  • WatchOS 2 features new watch faces that use your photos or photo albums as well as Time-Lapse which shows 24 hours in iconic locations around the world. It also includes watch complications featuring third-party app information and new communication capabilities in Mail, Friends, and Digital Touch. Now developers can take advantage of innovative hardware features including the Digital Crown, Taptic Engine, and heart rate sensor combined with software APIs to build new app experiences.
  • Apple Music combines the best ways to enjoy music—all in one place. The new streaming music service pioneers worldwide live radio station from Apple broadcasting 24/7, and is a great new way for music fans to connect with their favorite artists. Starting June 30, Apple Music will be available in over 100 countries and is priced at $9.99/mo ($14.99/mo for a family plan). A free three-month trial membership gives music fans the full Apple Music experience on their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and PC. And it’s coming to Apple TV and Android smartphones this fall.

All new software is planned for release in the Fall 2015.

Updated Apple Hardware

Today, Apple announced updated 15-in MacBook Pros with ForceTouch trackpads. The lower end model for $1999 retains a 2.2Gz i7 and 256 GB flash storage and Intel Iris Pro graphics, but boosts internal memory to 16Gb. The $2,499 model upgrades to 512 GB of flash storage and a 2.5-GHz CPU, adding AMD Radeon R9 M370X discrete graphics hardware with 2 GB of VRAM.

The new 5K retina iMac model is now priced at $1,999 with a 27-inch, 5120 x 2880 Retina display, 3.3-GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 CPU and AMD Radeon R9 M290 graphics (2GB of VRAM), along with 8 GB of memory, a 1TB, 7200-RPM hard drive and dual Thunderbolt 2 ports. The $2,299 model, which got a price cut, boosts quad-core i5 speed to 3.5 GHz, graphics hardware to AMD Radeon R9 M290X (4 GB of VRAM), and storage to a 1TB Fusion Drive.

Apple also announced a new Lightning dock with a 3.5mm audio line-out port in the back, which supports headphone remote control. No AC adapter is supplied, so MGRM2charging power comes via a Lightning port that you must connect to your own power adapter and cable. The dock is priced at $39.

Comcast – Time Warner Merger Fizzles

This Friday, the same day the Apple Watch started retail distribution, Comcast announced they were walking away from the deal they proposed 14 months earlier to acquire Time Warner Cable. In my opinion, this is great news for Indiana since part of the deal was that we were going to be shuffled off to a new company called Great Land Connections which would be a spin-off entity from Comcast and partially owned by Charter Communications. Like all cable companies, Charter has a less than stellar record amongst its existing customers. Even though Comcast has the worst reputation for customer satisfaction among American companies, I can’t help but think we’re better off with them rather than being slung around like a pawn in the trade-off Comcast was proposing to satisfy the Federal Trade Commission that the merger would not reduce competition. Great Land would likely not have the negotiating muscle to get as good a rates for media as Comcast, and it would also likely get Internet connections either through Charter or Comcast and be relegated to second tier performance and support. It’s the latter which worried me since neither AT&T through their U-verse service nor Charter provide anything close to the speed and bandwidth that Comcast provides. I currently get a minimum of 105 Mbps (usually around 120 Mbps) download speed and 20-25 Mbps upload speed. This is much greater than when I was with AT&T where I got <20 Mbps download and <1 Mbps upload speed for essentially the same price. According to their website, Charter offers only one Internet service tier at 60Mbps download and 4Mbps upload. While these speed differences have little impact when you’re just surfing the Net with a web browser, they significantly impact performance when you’re watching streaming video or using Facetime or Skype.

So while I have no love lost for Comcast as a company to do business with, I think we in Marion County are better off with them than being traded around as part of their proposed merger with Time Warner. Whether the deal for Charter to buy Bright House Networks which services 120,000 customers in Central Indiana in Hendricks, Boone, Hamilton, and Grant counties is affected by this latest news remains uncertain, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that deal also falls apart as well.

Apple Watch Pre-Orders Off and Running

Over the weekend, Apple started accepting pre-orders for the new Apple Watch. While I wasn’t in line Thursday night at the local Keystone store myself, I was interested to see some of the more intrepid reviewer post YouTube videos of their first impressions. In the two URL’s below are some good hands-on coverage of what these two reviewers thought and how the interface works.

User interfaces is where Apple really shines. If you stop and think what sets Apple software apart from others purveyors of technology, it is how they can make maximal use of a minimalist interface. With only two “buttons” and a tiny touch screen, you really have a wide range of commands at your disposal with the Apple Watch.

Apple Pay Associated with Unusually High Credit Card Fraud: Fact or Fiction?

Recently the lay press has reported that in practice Apple Pay is not as secure as Apple would like us all to believe. In fact there appears to be a higher rate of credit card fraud associated with the new service.

Rich Mogull, TidBITS’ security expert took a closer look at the issue. To make a long story short the issue appears to be in the process banks follow when linking your card to your iPhone, a process the banks call “onboarding”. During the process, Apple provides the bank with the last four digits of the phone number, the device name, and the latitude and longitude of the device at the time of provisioning, rounded to whole numbers among other things. Using this information, the issuing bank will determine whether to approve adding the card to Apple Pay. The problem appears to be that if the bank does not use all the supplied information, your card could be associated with a thief’s iPhone and then they could proceed to spend your money until caught. In any case, when you register your card on your iPhone, you should receive an email notification from your bank at the email address they have on file saying your card has been registered with Apple Pay. If you receive such an email and you didn’t register you card, or don’t have an iPhone 6 or 6 plus, act fast because a thief has your number.

To understand the issue in greater depth, check out Rich’s article over at

Apple’s Spring Forward Event


This afternoon Apple had it’s Spring Forward event in San Francisco where it announced a new MacBook. The new MacBook is just 13.1 mm thick at its thickest side and weighs just 2 pounds. The new MacBook comes in three colors, silver, gold, and space gray, and uses the new Intel Core M processor. The $1299 model features 256Gb PCIe flash storage and a 1.1 GHz processor and the $1599 model has 512 Gb PCIe flash storage with a 1.2 GHz processor. Both units have a 12 inch Retina display and 8Gb internal memory.

The Force Touch trackpad is engineered to deliver a responsive, uniform click no matter where you press the surface and has haptic tactile feedback like the Apple watch. The keyboard stretches across the entire width of the unit allowing each key to be slightly wider but have less vertical travel. The keys are also more stable thanks to a butterfly switch mechanism rather than the more traditional scissor switch. Each key is lit by it’s own LED light.

More details were also given about the new Apple watch. There are 38 models in three groups with prices ranging from $349 to $17,000. The Apple watch with aluminum casing comes in 20 models depending on the band selected and size while there are 10 Stainless steel models and 8 Edition models All come in 38 or 42 mm sizes. The Apple watch goes on sale April 24 with pre-order beginning April 10.

Apple also announced a price reduction on the Apple TV which will now retail for just $69 instead of $99. The Apple TV will be the first unit to support HBO Now which allows the subscriber to watch all HBO content without having a Cable TV contract. High speed Internet is required of course and it will cost $14.99 per month.

FREAK Attack

The blogoshphere is ablaze again today with the disclosure of yet another security vulnerability in Mac OSX and iOS. To be fair this attack can also affect nearly any browser currently being used. It involves the SSL/TLS system that allows secure connections using https:// and dates back to when US Export law only allowed 512-bit encryption systems or less to be exported outside the US. That law was lifted in the late 1990’s and nearly all secure connections nowadays use 1024-bit encryption. However, most browsers kept the capability to use the less secure encryption system if the server they were connecting with requested it. The security attack dubbed FREAK uses a way to fool the browser to use the less secure 512-bit encryption system. The significance is that 512-bit encryption can be broken with as little as $100 of rentable computing power.

A patch from Apple for both Mac OSX and iOS is being prepared and should be available next week.

To read more definitive discussions of the topic follow these links:

OS X 10.10.3 beta available

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I as well as many others received an email from Apple today announcing the availability of OSX 10.10.3 beta which includes the new Photos application. If interested you need to sign up through the beta program.

Photos is the new replacement for iPhoto and Aperture. It is reported to be more capable than iPhoto, but may not have all the features a professional photographer would want and found in Aperture. The big advantage is that it makes your entire photos library available through iCloud so that photos you take on your iPad or iPhone can be edited on any of your Apple devices, and those edits are instantly seen on any of your other devices. That advantage could come at a significant price, since it’s an all or nothing deal. If you want all your photos in one library shared between all your devices including your iCloud account, you could easily exceed the 5Gb free file storage you have on iCloud. Of course you can get more space. 20 Gb is only $12/year, but 1Tb is $240; more that twice what it is on Google drive or Dropbox.

The easiest way to get around this is to split up your existing large iPhoto library into smaller ones and only share the library that has the most recent pictures you want on all your devices or share with others through iPhoto Sharing. On the other hand, $12/year is not so bad and can probably accommodate 2000 pictures or so depending on resolution.


Apple to Update Walk-in Genius Appointments

According to a recent article on 9 to 5, Apple will be modifying the way walk-in Genius appointments work at the Apple Store. Currently a user can walk in to an Apple store, describe the problem they may be having and get a return time appointment when someone is available to address their problem. Starting March 9, that user will be met by a Concierge who will input the problem to an application on their iPad, and based on the complexity of the issue, an appointment will be scheduled. The difference being that a problem that can be readily addressed by most of the geniuses present will be seen sooner than a complex one that may take more time. Appointments can still be scheduled online as usual.

End to an Era …

Movie Clipping 2About a week ago (yes, I’m slow sometimes …) Chris Breen, Senior Editor at Macworld, announced that he was leaving Macworld and taking a job at a “fruit-flavored tech company sandwiched between Santa Clara and Sunnyvale” which we can only assume is Apple.

As many readers will know, Chris was a prolific writer of illuminating articles of how to use Macs and troubleshooting problems when they arose. In the past, we were able to reprint his Mac911 posts that he specifically made available to Mac User groups, but later we learned that they were restricted to print only and could not be included in electronic distributions. His Mac911 and regular review articles that used to appear in Macworld will be missed.

See this link for further information and his last Mac911 post.